Welcome to St Matthew’s Church, Morley Derbyshire.
Thought for the Month
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday 1st March: come and begin Lent at a service of Holy Communion at Morley Church at 12 noon at which Geoffrey will ‘ash’ people and Peter will preach. After the service Hazel and Geoffrey hope you will follow them to 36 Saundersfoot Way, Oakwood, for a simple soup and bread lunch.
But why ashes? Because ashes are a sign, they are a reminder, and they are an invitation.
Ashes are a sign of grief, mourning, humiliation and penitence. When Job loses everything, he sits among the ashes. Cursed and overrun by enemies, the Psalmist “eats ashes like bread, and mingles tears with drink.” Ashes are what are left after destruction. After chaos or catastrophe, ashes are what remain.
Ashes are a reminder of a common origin. Genesis chapter 2 tells of how we were created from the dust of the ground. Though we may spend our lives trying to distinguish ourselves from others, running after success and trying to be different from everyone else, the dust and ashes remind us that we are all made of the same stuff. We are reminded not only of our beginning but also of our end. On this the first day of Lent, ashes are imposed with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Those words apply to us all.
While ashes may signify and remind, they are also an invitation. They invite us to repentance. They invite us to turn again to God and to receive new life. Isaiah brings glad tidings to the people of Israel, “to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning.” Ashes are not the end but are just a beginning. They begin a season that moves us through silence and longing into a season of joy and resurrection.
On Ash Wednesday may the ashes we receive be a sign of our humility and penitence. May they remind us of our individual sins and the complexity of corporate sin. But more than anything, may the ashes invite us into God’s presence, into God’s love and into God’s gift of new life this Lent.
The Very Revd Geoffrey Marshall
PS What ashes do we use? The ashes are made on Shrove Tuesday by burning the previous year’s Palm Crosses. By all means bring your Palm Cross to church the previous Sunday.